Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Recapping: Northwestern

Devin Gardner did it again.

We were all counting on Denard Robinson to make his return to the field on Saturday against Northwestern, but that didn't turn out to be the case. Instead, we had to once again out our faith in backup Devin Gardner, making the second start at QB of his career.

This game had a little bit more pressure packed into it, though, as the Wildcats are a rising team in the Big Ten and were still breathing in the Legends Division race.  Still, Gardner went out and made his greatest contribution to the Wolverines in his 3 years of wearing a winged helmet. He threw for nearly 300 yards and 2 TDs, adding 47 yards on the ground with another 2 TDs.

There's no denying that Gardner is exceeding expectations, but I don't think it would've been possible without the continued success from Fitzgerald Toussaint, producing his 2nd straight game with good production from the backfield. He finally seemed to be running with a purpose, and Michigan will need every bit of that to close out the regular season. The only flaw I saw was being stripped from behind after breaking away from the Wildcat defense earlier in the game. But the good is that is something that can easily be fixed. It was a flaw of discipline, not effort or desire.

It was also great to see Roy Roundtree break out for an enormous game. Any quarterback will tell you it's nice having a reliable, go-to WR, and it's especially true for a relatively inexperienced QB like Gardner. 5 catches for 139 yards is no freak accident. I would expect to see higher production from him the rest of the season, compared to what we were getting before this week. I figured heading into this game that Northwestern would be able to put up a good numb of points on the Wolverine defense. The Wildcat rushing attack with QB Kain Colter is one of the most explosive in the Big Ten, and they showed it off once again against Michigan.

But, as always, the big boys up front were able to make those key stops that kept a W in sight.  I've been impressed with the big-play ability of the defense, and Saturday was just another testimony to how far along Greg Mattison has brought this defense, especially up front in those scenarios. It was truly a team win in every since of the word against Northwestern, and Michigan has kept itself in a position to still have a shot at representing the Legends Division on the Big Ten Championship.

Tyler's Prediction Record: 9-1. Not bad, eh?

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